captain phasma episode 8 captain phasma episode 8 Actress Gwendoline Christie has confirmed that Captain Phasma will return for 'Episode VIII.' (Photo: Lucasfilm)

5 ways 'The Last Jedi' will be better than ‘The Force Awakens'

From more Skywalker to less camp, director Rian Johnson's upcoming addition the Star Wars saga is set to raise the bar.

Has there ever been a better time to be a "Star Wars" fan? Not only is "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" months away from release, but we're also getting a new Han Solo film, a video game adventure from former "Uncharted" scribe Amy Hennig, and several immersive virtual reality experiences.

Under all of these exciting properties, however, is the growing buzz surrounding "Star Wars: Episode VIII." This new installment, taking place immediately after the events of "The Force Awakens," is being helmed by American director Rian Johnson and his longtime friend Ram Bergman, a prolific Israeli producer.

Now that filming has wrapped, we're starting to hear a bit more about the tone, writing and possible plot points of "Episode VIII." Whereas "The Force Awakens" reintroduced fans to the Star Wars universe, it appears that "Episode VIII" will dig deeper, explore and expand on the characters, both new and old, that we've all come to love.

Below are just some of the reasons we believe "Episode VIII" will outshine "The Force Awakens" when it arrives in December 2017.

More Luke Skywalker

Luke Skywalker The Force AwakensThose eager for Luke Skywalker to show off his Jedi Knight skills can look forward to a much larger presence in 'Episode VIII.' (Photo: The Force Awakens)

Those disappointed by Luke Skywalker's one-minute, non-speaking cameo at the end of "The Force Awakens" can look forward to the complete opposite in "Episode VIII." The Jedi Knight, played by American actor Mark Hamill, is slated to have a much larger role in helping to progress Rey's story; including, as he teased recently, an "elaborate special effects sequence."

But back to "The Force Awakens" for a moment. In a Q&A for the annual Star Wars Celebration at London’s ExCel Centre in July, Hamill said he had no idea how small his role would be in the first film until he read the script.

"You should have seen me. What are the very first words in the crawl? ‘Luke Skywalker has vanished,'” Hamill said. “I said, ‘Hoo, this is gonna be good!’ I’ll tell you where I thought I came in – in the forest, when the lightsaber [wiggles] like this, and flies off. I thought, ‘Oh, what a great entrance! GAH! Rey caught it…? She hasn’t even been to Dagobah for training! What’s the deal?'"

We'll all learn the deal behind Rey's sudden Jedi powers soon. Let's just hope that the truth comes from a lightsaber-wielding Luke Skywalker kicking some Sith butt in the process.

The writing

episode VIIIThe title page of the script for "Star Wars Episode VIII," as tweeted by director Rian Johnson. (Photo: Rian Johnson/Twitter)

Fans eager for the "Star Wars" franchise to take a breather after the roller coaster of action that was "The Force Awakens" can look forward to a more reflective story in "Episode VIII."

“The first film was this incredible explosion of adventure and excitement that sets up these characters and then just out of necessity it’s very natural that in the second film that we start zooming in on the characters,” Johnson told the audience at this summer's Star Wars Celebration.

In addition to fleshing out the new main characters, Johnson's script is also apparently flush with catchphrases that will shortly infect pop culture.

“I was looping 'Episode VIII' yesterday, and there’s dialogue in there, and I thought, ‘Oh boy, I can already see this on a T-shirt. Rian Johnson is amazing,” Hamill told fans at the Celebration. “He’ll make you forget all about ‘May the Force be with you.’ He’s come up with so many new catchphrases.”

A more mature tone

Kylo RenAdam Driver, who plays the villainous Kylo Ren, says the tone of 'Episode VIII' is more mature than 'The Force Awakens.' (Photo: The Force Awakens)

While Johnson is promising a deeper story, it appears that the tone of "Episode VIII" will also mature in tone from "The Force Awakens." In a recent interview with Collider, American actor Adam Driver, who plays the conflicted villain Kylo Ren, praised the script for its more serious take on the "Star Wars" universe.

"It’s great. It’s similar to how 'The Empire Strikes Back' has a different tone," shared Driver. "For that people always go 'oooh, it’s dark' but I don’t know that it necessarily is. It’s just different in tone in a way that I think is great and necessary but also very clear. He trusts [that] his audience is ready for nuance and ambiguity. He’s not dumbing anything down for someone and that’s really fun to play."

Driver added that Johnson apparently was also flexible in how some of his ideas played out during filming.

"He’s the most polite, unassuming guy and he was appropriately territorial about some things but would still be the first to admit when something’s not working," he praised. "A lot of times you need to rise to understand what the script is, and perhaps I’m beginning to be unclear, but he’s a great person to work with."

Captain Phasma won't be a giant bummer

Captain PhasmaCaptain Phasma, played by Gwendoline Christie, is slated to have a much larger role in 'Episode VIII.' (Photo: The Force Awakens)

Despite looking incredibly cool and menacing in every trailer and promotional item for "The Force Awakens," Captain Phasma was a decidedly underwhelming character. Played by British actress Gwendoline Christie, who regularly sweeps the floor of enemies in HBO's "Game of Thrones," the next entry in the "Star Wars" saga will likely deliver the chrome-plated villain we were all promised from the beginning.

"She's an important character, a baddie in the best sense of the word," co-producer Kathleen Kennedy told the LA Times on Phasma's expanded role in "Episode VIII."

Fan speculation is rife that Phasma may buck the First Order and make a name for herself as a bounty hunter intent on tracking down Rey and Finn. After getting thrown into a trash compactor by the pair at the end of "The Force Awakens," we wouldn't begrudge her for seeking to settle the score.

The Knights of Ren will come out of the dark

The Knights of RenThe Knights of Ren, first teased in 'The Force Awakens,' are expected to play a major role in 'Episode VIII.' (Photo: The Force Awakens)

Briefly teased during "The Force Awakens," the Knights of Ren are poised to come out of the shadows and feature heavily in "Episode VIII."

The group, organized by Supreme Leader Snoke, is skilled in the dark side of the force and features battle uniforms similar to those worn by Kylo Ren. They are also reportedly responsible for killing off the generation of Jedi under the tutelage of Luke Skywalker. Rumors are strongly hinting that we could see an epic battle take place between Skywalker and the Knights of Ren on the aquatic planet of Ahch-To, home to the Jedi Temple.

Should this intriguing dark side company make a splash with audiences, American director JJ Abrams says there may be a solo movie opportunity.

"I gotta say Kathy Kennedy, who’s running it all, she seems to be pushing all the right buttons," Abrams told Collider. "There isn’t something that I’d love to see – I guess the one thing I would say is there’s a Knights of Ren story that I think would be pretty cool to tell."


Photos and SlideshowsPhotos and Slideshows

Related Topics: Lists, Movies

5 ways 'The Last Jedi' will be better than ‘The Force Awakens'
From more Skywalker to less camp, director Rian Johnson's upcoming addition the Star Wars saga is set to raise the bar.